by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Organisers of Sugar Mas 50 are proposing that participants and patrons of Carnival be vaccinated, an approach that has led to the successful return of mass events internationally.
“The only way in which we would be able to host a successful Carnival is for a significant portion of our stakeholders to be vaccinated, and we see it coming,” said Chair of the St Kitts Nevis National Carnival Committee, Shanon Hawley during WINN’s Voices on October 27.
“We haven’t been explicitly [told]; we don’t see it with the regulations today. But we anticipate, and indications from the task force and the authorities indicate that events, once open, will cater to vaccinated individuals only,”
Hawley cited a recent trip to North America where she had to show her vaccination card to eat at a food court in the mall, a restaurant or a nightclub. Based on the regulations for St. Kitts and Nevis, if those stipulations were mandated, the committee would have to comply.
That is good news for the vaccinated in the federation wanting to attend Sugar Mas 50 activities, some of which Hawley has guaranteed will have a live audience.
“Every event that we are hosting for this year, we will have limited live audience… limited in terms of capacity, social distancing, etc. But taking that into consideration, we will definitely have more than what we had last year.”
Carnival will still be catering to virtual audiences even with the inclusion of limited live audiences.
What’s on the schedule up for Sugar Mas 50?
Once approved by the Commissioner of Police and the COVID-19 Taskforce, the full calendar should be shared during the first week of November.
So far, the Calypso Tents are slated to begin on November 13 weekly every Saturday until the final eight.
The Soca Monarch Competition, for which over 50 persons have applied to participate, will have an elimination round and then the finals, double the participant interest of past Soca Monarch competitions.
Hawley shared even better news for the participants vying for Calypso and Soca Monarch titles.
“What I can say though, Socrates, one of the things we did was we increased the prize money. It’s for our 50th anniversary, and we are mindful of the situation that we are currently in and entertainers etc… Both for Soca monarch and the Calypso competition, we increase the price of money.”
The contestants for the National Carnival Queen Competition and the National Swimsuit Competition have been released. Competitions geared towards the promotions of Sugar Mas 50 are still ongoing, with the song competition concluding on Friday, October 22 and now a photography competition and a creative art contest are underway.
Hawley also teased that the virtual Icons event will feature road march winners from the past.
“Well, you are going to see and hear more of that, but just know that for that Icons event that we have scheduled for December, we’re going to see more of the past road match individual winners. We have a lot of people who are still around, and we hope to have them live on stage for the Icons event that we are planning.”
The Folklore Avenue to be hosted in the Independence Square and the Folklore Caravan, pockets of folklore performances dispersed around the island in various communities, are back again this year.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to be able to add events, of course, there will be no street activities unfortunately due to the situation… we are unable to host street activities, but we will have a bubble J’ouvert as we are calling it, within secured bottom zone venue where we will be the host that aspect [of Carnival].”
Hawley emphasised the importance of the National Carnival to the economy and that it should be taken more seriously.
“What we must realise is that Carnival is not just about entertainment, and I say it all the time… It’s a trickle-down effect, and we need to take it seriously and recognise globally how Carnival is such a significant contributor to the economy. Especially now with this pandemic. It is an opportunity for us to have events to host a National Carnival where we can encourage individuals to come in support the economy trickle down; you know we have hairdressers, clothing stores, barbers, entertainers, graphic designers, the average street vendor. It is really, really important, and I think that economic impact assessment must be done once we get back to some level of normalcy for you don’t fight to be tabled to just how much that Carnival contributes to the economy and its not just about fun and frolic.”
The situation remains fluid as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and could change at any time, but SugarMas50 is tentatively in full swing.